John Furie Zacharias
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Thunderstorms Anywhere

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Thursday, November 23, 2006
Darth Cheney Iraq Iran


 Cheneys World

On this Thanksgiving Day holiday, I thought I should try to think of some things for which I should be thankful as an American.  Mostly, I'm thankful the political system seemed to work two weeks ago and the will of the America people seemed to envision the beginning of some kind of correction in the future course of our country.

Unfortunately, I have no temptation to relax or celebrate the Democratic Party's Congressional victory very much because there remains the stark reality that the Bush/Cheney administration is still in power for about the next 800 days.  A lot can happen in two years.

Remember how after the 2004 Bush/Cheney election victory, I started referring to George Bush as The Democrusader when I heard his inaugural address?  Similarly, former Reagan administration official, editor and author, Paul Craig Roberts, referred to Andrew Bacevich's book, The New American Militarism and warned us all about the foolishness of Empire and Militant Christianity:

The new American militarism has abandoned the Founding Fathers, deserted the Constitution, and unrestrained the executive. War is a first resort. Militarism is inconsistent with globalism and with American ideals. It will end in abject failure.

The world is a vast place. The US has demonstrated that it cannot impose its will on a tiny part known as Iraq. American realism may yet reassert itself, dispel the fog of delusion, cleanse the body politic of the Jacobin spirit and lead the world by good example. But this happy outcome will require regime change in the US.

Roberts wrote this two years ago, thousands of casualties ago, and before the Military Commissions Act of 2006 stripped us all of basic legal rights.  The good example of legalizing torture for the rest of the regimes in the world is not something anyone in the U.S. should politically justify.  We've only started down the path to regime change.

Darth Cheney still has imperial dreams in the broader Middle East.  Bush seems to be mentally unravelling even further in the face of his grand failures.  Bush 41 is emotionally crushed to hear what people really think of his idiot son.  With their domestic political egos badly damaged, I still fear the warmongers in the White House may continue their plan for declaring victory in Iraq by simply changing the subject and waging war with Iran.

When I wrote Rush to the Next War last month, I didn't have the benefit of reading Seymour Hersh's last article.  However, the details he fleshes out in his article should be taken seriously.  Yoda has the access, foshizzle.  Almost everyone agrees that the same mechanisms are being used to go to war with Iran as were used to go to war with Iraq.

Politically, the Bush/Cheney adminstration says it offers diplomacy, but offers none. They simply prefer regime change to a diplomatic solution with Iran.  The Iranian Directorate was set up this year in the same Pentagon office as Cheney's infamous Office of Special Plans, that cooked up all the pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

The Pentagon office is stove-piping raw intelligence reports to Darth Cheney's office again, to the horror and dismay of the Central Intelligence Agency.  The Israelis are training Kurdish Special Units in the north of Iraq and our own Special Ops teams are making incursions into Iranian territory for recon and intel gathering.

As I said before, don't expect the Democratic Party to stop a war with Iran, if Darth Cheney wants it.  Even Democratic celebrities like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have already supported a hard-line with Tehran.  Additionally, the Congressional leadership change doesn't seem to hopeful for peace, either.

The chairman for the House International Relations Committee will be Representative Thomas Lantos from California.  He's a known tool for AIPAC -- and as the Detroit-based, award-winning columnist, Bill Gallagher, just recently reminded us -- Lantos was in charge of the infamous pre-Gulf War hearings hoax, 15 years ago:

The Democrats can make a difference, but their new majority status brings a real obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Rep. Thomas Lantos, D-Calif., is set to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Lantos' views are in complete conformity with the Likud Party and AIPAC.

Lantos lost all credibility in the first Gulf War. That's when he held a hearing on Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and helped foster one of the great lies in that episode. Lantos brought in a compelling witness who described Iraqi troops going into a hospital in Kuwait City, disconnecting infants from neonatal units and taking the expensive equipment to Baghdad.

The beautiful, tearful young woman spoke in excellent English as she told the committee about Saddam's ruthless infanticide. Her story became one of the most repeated arguments for the need to drive Saddam from Kuwait.

Lantos said his star witness could not be identified for her "protection." Months later, the truth emerged. The woman was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States and she was here at the time of the invasion. Her whole story was a hoax, used to sell the war.

Lantos knew who she was, but lied to his colleagues and the world about her act. The Democrats should not allow Lantos to dictate policies on the Middle East.

The American, Israeli, and Islamist warmongers have an infrastructure of power and propaganda. They will likely lash out and force events, when they're cornered or have to compromise their agenda.  These people need to be denounced -- whether or not they may make their arguments for war in practiced, polite and calm tones of voice on television -- or raucous and spontaneous outrage on the streets.

Extremists, and xenophobes, and fearful people, will call for more war, more determination, and more sacrifice for victory by "us over them."  Peaceful-minded Americans, Israelis, and Muslims around the globe need to remain mindful and take heed. The next two years may be troubling times as the two competing visions of the future of Our Little Spinning Ball of Mud® intensifies and when these opposing visions of war and peace are forced down the funnels of decision and future human events.

 






Sunday, November 19, 2006
Bush Cheney Rumsfeld Gates


JfZ remembers Rumsfeld

Earlier this month, I blogged about some of the immediate political ramifications of the Bush/Cheney administration's decision to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Robert Gates as U.S. Secretary of Defense.  And, I had a little snarky fun in doing so.  I admit it.  Now, I think it might be time to more seriously review some very recent history before we get too overly hopeful that some of these post-election changes of political personality will have on the future of our Little Spinning Ball Of Mud ®.

Certainly, other than Bush and Cheney themselves, Rumsfeld has been the public face of the Bush/Cheney administration's so-called War on Terror.  Contemporary authors have already written and future historians will write volumes (assuming we all live long enough to need historians) about Donald Rumsfeld's prosecution of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Rumsfeld is this generation's Robert McNamara -- and oddly enough -- both reviled Secretaries of Defense hovering over the operations of failed military strategies of flawed foreign policies are similar in many ways.  They even look similar in appearance.  Read the resumès of both people.  Both were very successful as corporate executives.  Most notably, McNamara in the automotive industry at Ford Motor Company and Rumsfeld in the pharmaceutical industry at Searle.  Both were hailed as successful and analytical reformers.  Perhaps, future presidents should take note and will look beyond corporate America for future leaders of the Department of Defense.

One of the most publicized Vietnam-era, anti-war, anti-pentagon personal acts of protest happened when Norman Morrison, a Quaker, set himself on fire in front of Robert McNamara's office window.  While it only took a post-election, politically self-serving administration to remove Donald Rumsfeld last week, I feel most compelled to point out an odd symmetry of self immolation.

Sadly, the day before Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Malachi Ritscher, an Illinois artist and anti-war protestor, also set himself on fire on the side of a Chicago freeway during rush hour traffic to publicize his final and ultimate protest against the Iraq war.

It is sad to me because no one except the indymedia and the blogs noticed, or seemed to care, even though he left his own obituary online protesting the war.  Beside major corporate media ignoring the story, the solitary Chicago Sun Times article seemed to ridicule his act as a futile gesture and basically labelled him as mentally ill.

Despite the fact that we now live in the information age, are we all too cynical, or just programmed and brainwashed to accept the mass violence of Iraq or the personal tragedy as unnoteworthy?  Is it Iraq-fatigue?  If a white blonde girl set herself on fire to protest war, would Barbie Doll sales go down?

It is fairly clear to people who have been paying attention to the Pentagon for the last five years, Rumsfeld didn't play well with others, except with his future retirement community neighbor and Project for a New America Century (PNAC) co-founder, vice president Dick Cheney.  One of the reasons for not accepting Rumsfeld's earlier resignations was the domino theory of politics -- once Rumsfeld fell, people would call for resignation or impeachment of the next one up in the dysfunctional chain of command.

Rumsfeld was key to enacting Cheney's policies, but jealous of George Tenet's CIA because the CIA already had plans for Afghanistan ready when 9/11 happened and the Pentagon did not.  The CIA had been dealing with their warlords in Afghanistan for 20 years.  Rumsfeld was arrogant, turf-protecting, and thought little of anyone in other agencies, like Powell or Rice in the State Department.  Afghanistan and Iraq are slipping into the abyss because of the Bush/Cheney admistration's Katrina-syndrome.  Despite all the inspiring political talk, they continue to fail.

So, now Donald Rumfeld will be gone if Robert Gates is confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense by the U.S. Senate.  Even at age 75, Rumsfeld will likely spend his retirement testifying in front of Congressional committees and courts of law around the country for various ongoing civil rights lawsuits.  He will likely not leave the country, as he is currently being brought up on war crimes charges in German federal court, now.

Suggested Reading/Research:

New Yorker Magazine - "How Donald Rumsfeld reformed the Army and Lost Iraq"
by Peter J. Boyle.

Washington Post: - "National Security special section"
by multiple authors

ACLU.org - "Gitmo to Abu Ghraib Torture Hard Facts Timeline PDF
by ACLU.org staff

Democracy Now! - "JfZs video and transcripts search"
by Google advanced search

Frontline - "Rumsfelds War"
by PBS, WGBH

 



A film worth watching:
The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Staring Barry Goldwater



Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Gaza: Beit Hanoun


That is a photo of blood literally running in the streets, as the saying goes.  While we were jumping up and down in celebration from the result of our own November elections last week, the rest of the world continued to spin seemingly out of control.  The above photo was taken in the Gaza Strip, the day after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) continued their attack since late June in occupied territory in a northern Gaza village called Beit Hanoun.  More photos and outrage can be found on notinhisname.

Today, the U.N. Human Rights Council held a special session concerning the Israeli Defense Forces artillery shelling of Beit Hanoun in which 19 people were killed and some 60 others were severly injured.  The UNHRC voted to send in an international fact-finding mission into Gaza and denounced recent IDF actions.

This follows the U.N. Security Council session last week concerning a fact-finding investigation into the Beit Hanoun tragedy, in which the U.S. blocked that resolutiion by casting a veto vote.  John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., explained his veto vote by stating the resolution was not even handed and politically motivated.

The politically polarizing U.S. ambassador, John Bolton, is not likely to be confirmed by a Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate after his Bush-appointment ends this year.  Already, the U.S. Congress is passing around a letter to colleagues in order to gain support for a more acceptable candidate, Jim Leach.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who called the shelling of Beit Hanoun "a technical mistake" was touring the U.S. on a fund raising junket.  After a militant Hamas group, Qassam Brigades, killed a woman and wounded several others in the never-ending cycle of retaliation with a barage of rockets in the nearby Israeli town of Sderot today, Olmert changed his miniminally concilliatory tone and vowed "to continue fighting the unceasing, murderous terror in the Gaza Strip."

Bolton's veto in the Security Council last week for a simple investigation into the Beit Hanoun "technical mistake" was characterized as "incomprehensible" by the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.  According to a report on Democracy Now, Moussa announced that the Arab League will now go against the ongoing U.S. strategic stance of starving the Palestinian government and start sending funds.

 


Sunday, November 12, 2006
Veterans Day


 2006 Official Veterans Day Poster

Friday commemorated Veterans Day in the United States, although most people simply call this the Veterans Day weekend.  The President even signed a proclamation that last week would be considered National Veterans Awareness Week.  In it, the President states, "I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers."  I think all Americans honored veterans this past week by voting. The ultimate gift will be more intelligent leadership in the government that can secure the country through diplomacy first; when we need the military's might, we don't tie its hands by political elections.  On the left is the Department of Veterans Affair's official poster for 2006.  They have an interesting gallery of posters online and links about the history of this national holiday.  As a military veteran myself, I honor all the veterans of earlier wars and conflicts.  I was taught to respect my elders, and as a matter of simple common sense, I listen intently to people with experience to learn from them.

I also think we can listen and learn from the everyday men and women who are currently becoming more than our relatives and neighbors by fighting and dying in the current theaters of combat.

My personal observation of Veterans Day involved watching BookTV on C-Span, where military veteran authors talked about their recent experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few of the programs that I watched:

Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq
Peter Laufer
Watch Video

Ruff's War: A Navy Nurse on the Frontline in Iraq
Cheryl Ruff
Watch Video

What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It
Trish Wood
Watch Video

Another thing I did this Veterans Day weekend was check out the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.  The LOC is becoming more available in digital form and this is one very cool example of that upgrade.

I immediately drilled my research down to the section for the Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans' stories.  One reason I did this was to listen to our relatively young vets, but another reason I did this was because the Department of Defense has recently cracked down on military bloggers with the excuse of operational security. This has sent a chilling effect through the ranks and some military bloggers have simply quit blogging in 2006 due to the heightened scrutiny of every word they publish.

Honestly, I look to first-hand witnesses to filter the corporate or government media messages of the situation -- liberal, conservative, or completely made up lies.

I found one very interesting first-hand account of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan at the Library of Congress. This veteran was in a position to know.  His name is Joseph B. Goellner, and at the time, he was an Army all-source intelligence technician tasked to support both the top ISAF military commander and the U.S. State Department's ambassador in Kabul.  I transcribed the following quote from about the 19:00 minute mark in the videotaped interview.

Watch his interview:

Q: I have to ask you this.  Do you think Osama bin Laden is still alive?

A: Well, that's a dangerous question.  I personally do not.  I personally think he died on December 14th, 2001 in the Tora Bora mission.  But, officially in the government, from the government, we always say that, "He is alive," because we can't prove it yet.

Unfortunately, the area, the eastern part of Afghanistan is still very much a war zone, especially in the rural areas.  And, we're not able to get up into Tora Bora to find out who we did kill that night.  And, because on that night, we dropped several large crater-busting bombs in a small area.  We knew there was a large contingent of what appeared to be Arabs. And, later on, the mountain, the whole side of the mountain changed because of the bombs. And, we've not been able to get up in there, and move, do engineering work to move away the rubble to see what is actually there.

And the other reason, that I say, that I believe, that Osama bin Laden died is he's too much of an ego-maniac to stay in hiding this long. And, these little tapes they send out -- can be anyone. I just believe that his ego would not have allowed him to stay unnoticed until now.

Q: And plus, he's like 6-foot-seven and needs kidney dialysis, how do you hide?

A: Yes ... yes, ma'am. 


Hmmm.  When do you think the goverment or the McMedia will begin to treat their 300-million strong audience with some respect and stop treating all of us like children, or fools?

 


Saturday, November 11, 2006
Politics: Iraq and Rumsfeld


 Insert your own comment here

Feel free to insert your own caption to my google-image montage of the Bush White House tossing Rumsfeld over the side as political shark chum.

I can only imagine that Bush/Cheney likely had a cabinet meeting of the principals where Bush's people said things like, "Donald's lived a full life; we thank him for his service to country; we can give him a service medal; Clinton and Pelosi will shut up and think about domestic policy, if we give up Rummy."

If you don't think politics in the United States is a blood sport, you're not paying attention.  It has all the feakish betrayal of reality TV, all the drama of the powerful losing everything (just ask the once 2008 presidential hopeful George Allen), and the sitcom predicability of scripted one-liners.

Bush gave this freakish, five-minute-long, White House Rose Garden dog and pony show and team photo-op of his cabinet's solidarity with the press corps before he met with the newly elected and incoming House and Senate Majority leaders.  Donald Rumsfeld was not there.  Was that public display of team spirit to bolster the morale of his cabinet that they wouldn't meet the fate of Donald Rumsfeld or to calm the fears of millions of fellow Republicans who just drank all that Bush/Cheney campaign-trail Kool-Aid that Armageddon faced us in 2007, if the Democratic party won in the elections?

House Majority Leader-elect Nancy Pelosi once again publicly stated that "impeachment is off the table," but with a large number of old-school Democratic party icons taking up various leadership roles in House and Senate committees, she may have a tough job impeding powerful committee chairmen from calling hearings that expose the executive branch's innumerable impeachable offenses.

I predict that with ex-CIA Director Robert Gates as the incoming Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld could die from natural causes within the next 18 months, before he can testifiy under oath in a Democratic controlled committee hearing, if he opens his mouth.  Look for the old soldier to have a nano-sized micro injection red spot in his left eyeball, before he can tell any death-bed confessions about Bush and Cheney.  Rumsfeld is smart, though.  He will keep his mouth shut, or simply lie under oath.  I wouldn't expect any Robert McNamara Fog of War musings from Rumsfeld concerning Iraq.

Incoming SecDef-elect Robert Gates survived the Reagan/Bush era Iran Contra affair.  In my humble opinion, I think it's quite normal and expected that George Bush is calling in some of his family's political chips for shady talent like Robert Gates, convicted felon John Poindexter, and self-admitted liar to congress and neo-con nutbag, Elliot Abrams.  Look for a spreading war in the Middle East and even more covert action in South America again.

I want the Democratic-controlled House to call an Intelligence, or Armed Services, or Foreign Relations hearing.  Get John Conyers to subpoena Colin Powell to testify under oath for about a month straight.

The next two years will not be boring.

As a related item of interest

This morning, C-Span's Washington Journal was to have a roundtable and call-in discussion about Iraq featuring two Iraq war veterans.  Unfortunately, the spokesman for Iraq Veterans against the War had a medical emergency and could not participate.  C-Span had to air the segment with only the spokesman for a pro-war group called Veterans For Freedom, David Bellavia.  Being a military veteran myself, I thought I would look into this organization.

Surprise! Surprise! Veterans For Freedom is nothing more than a well-funded, Republican 527 front group against anyone who wants to end the occupation in Iraq.  David Bellavia is the vice-chairman of the lobbying "fund" and the entire group is a political propaganda machine, tracing its roots to the infamous Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.

So many liars, so little time.

David Bellavia actually had the temerity to ask an opposition caller, "I'm a vet -- who do you think signs my paycheck?"  Well, now I know.  Until he leaves in January, David Bellavia's paycheck will be signed (or funded) by that NRC chairman and lying weasel, Ken Mehlman.

I can respect people who disagree with my opinion about Iraq, but when someone -- anyone -- gets on a national broadcast like C-Span, or Fox News, and espouses a foreign policy stance under the guise of credibility, it really irritates me.

 


 
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